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Pennsylvania's Limited Tort: When You Can Sue For Pain And Suffering (Part C: Permanent Serious Disfigurement)

As parts A and B of this legal article previously discuss, you cannot sue for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering if you have limited tort on your Pennsylvania car insurance policy.

However, there are exceptions to the rule as discussed in Part A of this article.  In addition, if the exceptions do not apply, then the injured individual can still sue for non-economic damages if he can prove that his injuries resulted in a serious impairment of body function, as discussed in Part B of the article, or that his injuries resulted in permanent serious disfigurement, which will be discussed in this last part of the article.

Permanent Serious Disfigurement

Pennsylvania court cases that deal with permanent serious disfigurement focus on 2 issues:

1.  How noticeable is the scarring after there has been a period of healing?

2.  Is there medical evidence that says the scarring is permanent?

For the first issue, a period of time must have passed in order to evaluate whether a disfigurement is permanent.  In other words, if you sustain a scar on your face as a result of a car accident, you cannot say that the scar is permanent based on what it looks like shortly after the accident.  The reason is that 2 years later, the scar may not be noticeable anymore.  In that case, the scar would not be a permanent serious disfigurement. 

If facial scarring is visible after 3 years and there is medical evidence that shows it is a serious disfigurement, then it is likely that the injury will be considered permanent serious disfigurement.  This was the case in the Pennsylvania case Gemmel v. Barrett where the court found that facial scarring that is visible after 3 1/2 years from the date of the accident and is supported by medical evidence is considered permanent serious disfigurement.

Help After Being Injured in a Car Accident

If you feel that you sustained an injury resulting in permanent serious disfigurement, it is vital that you speak to a Pennsylvania car and truck accident lawyer.  Like car accidents that result in injuries with serious impairment of body function, cases involving permanent serious disfigurement must be evaluated on a case by case basis.  Each injury is different and affects each individual differently.  For more information, feel free to contact our lawyers for a free consultation.

Related Legal Limited Tort and Injury Articles:

*Published: 8-13-12

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